Sonos has launched ‘Pro’, a new product aimed at businesses.
The new offering is not a hardware product like its smart speakers, but instead a software offering that will allow companies to use those hardware products more easily. It is aimed at restaurants, shops and other small and medium businesses that use its speakers to provide background music.
The company says that some of those features, built for businesses, will eventually be available to its normal consumer customers, too.
The new tools were built after Sonos realised that a host of businesses were using its smart speakers – but that they lacked the advanced tools they need to control them in such environments, chief executive Patrick Spence told The Independent. Sonos realised in the last couple of years that businesses needed such an offering, and has been trialling it in some businesses since.
As such, the Sonos Pro offering includes the ability to manage monitor speakers from anywhere, through a web-based dashboard that allows speakers to be automated, restricted and controlled in various ways. Usually, the Sonos app only allows for control of devices that are on the same network.
Sonos Pro also adds a new ‘Sonos Backgrounds’ tool that plays commercially-licensed music, as well as other similar third-party offerings. Those are also controlled through the same dashboard.
For now, those tools are all available only through Sonos Pro and its dashboard, and no changes are coming immediately to the consume version the app. But Mr Spence said that the company will use the launch as a “learning opportunity” to see which of those tools might be useful to people at hoes.
That might include rolling out permissions, he suggested, so that people can choose what access a certain user has to the system. At the moment anyone on the consumer app has the same total control over the system, but Sonos Pro allows users only to be allowed to change the music but not the volume, for instance.
The advent of Sonos Pro could also bring with it new hardware tailored to businesses, Mr Spence suggested. While it is built to work on the existing hardware the company offers, Sonos is keeping its “options open on that front” in case it learns that there are other hardware offerings that might be useful outside of the home.
“Is there anything we need to do differently in our products, that we need to incorporate?” he said. “Or do we bring out something new that’s a little more tailored to the segment as well? We’ll learn more things as we go through it.”
Sonos will charge businesses $35 per month for each location. It is only available in the US for now but other countries are expected to follow.
The ‘Pro’ offering is intended to be a long-term effort and will start with small and medium enterprises, Mr Pence said. “It’s not like this is something that we are going to see in a businesses tomorrow; we’ll build it over time,” he said.
The company expects some of those people are already using Sonos systems in their businesses, and they will not be forced to upgrade to the new consumer app. But many businesses are not yet using the system and have been waiting for the kinds of features offered with the new Pro tool, he said.